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State Disaster Management dept unites with amateur radio operators to break language barriers

State Disaster Management dept unites with amateur radio operators to break language barriers

Kolkata: The state Disaster Management department has joined hands with the West Bengal Radio Club (WBRC) — an organisation of licensed HAM radio operators in the state to effectively address the issue of language barrier when it comes to offering treatment to pilgrims of other states, if they fall sick or tracing them in case they get estranged from their family members at Gangasagar Mela.

"This is for the first time we will work as an integrated team with the state Disaster Management unit at the fair. Two young HAMs from Hyderabad-based National Institute of Amateur Radio and one senior ham from Indian Institute of HAMs (IIH), Bengaluru, will be a part of our team. These hams are expert in interpreting various languages spoken in other states and have the experience of working worldwide in disaster management," said Ambarish Nag Biswas, founder secretary of WBRC.

According to him, many pilgrims fall sick during the fair and a good number of them also get estranged from their families. "There have been several instances when the medical team has been in difficulty in providing proper treatment as they are unable to understand the language of the patient. Similar problems occur when somebody gets lost. We are hopeful of addressing this problem much more effectively with these three hams working with us," he added. The HAM radio operators have been able to unite more than 1,700 pilgrims who had gone missing at the 2018 Mela.

Tom Kejosh and Dakuri Rahul — the two HAMs from Hyderabad had worked in close coordination with the WBRC during the Hudhud in October 2014 when the cyclonic storm had caused extensive damage to parts of Andhra Pradesh and Nepal. Manjunath H from Bengaluru is an expert and the Andhra government teaches books written by him in schools to inspire students in working in the area of disaster management.

District Magistrate South 24-Parganas Y Ratnakara Rao said the integrated mega control room that is being set up at the Mela this year will have HAM radio operators. "We will be able to maintain liaison with HAM operators throughout the world with a special piece of radio equipment that will be put into action at the Mela this year," said Subir Dutta, president of WBRC.

A major step has also been taken to ensure minimum delay in transfer of sick persons to city government hospitals in case of emergency. Lack of support staff at Lot 8 after a patient is transported from Kachuberia has been an area of concern.

"The two medical water ambulances that will be put into action for transfer of patients via waterways will have HAM radio operators who will communicate with their counterparts at Lot 8 to ensure that there is no delay in transfer from water to land and rapid transportation of the patient to the city hospital is unhindered," a senior official of the district administration said.

The Gangasagar Mela starts from Wednesday and will continue till January 17.

SOUMITRA NANDI

SOUMITRA NANDI

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